2014 Pride parade grand marshals named

grand marshals

The 2014 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade grand marshals are Rafael McDonnell, left, and the Rev. Carol West

With nearly 1,600 votes cast by the community, the Rev. Carol West and Rafael McDaniel have been chosen as grand marshals of the 2014 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

West is the pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth. She was called in 1998 by the then 35-member congregation to lead the church which now has grown to more than 500 members. In 2010, West was named winner of the Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

McDonnell is communications and advocacy manager for Resource Center. He worked 16 years in broadcast news, including seven years as an assignment editor for Fox 4 News in Dallas. In May 2008, became the first person to hold the job of communications manager for the center.

Watch for more about this year’s grand marshals in the Friday, Aug. 1 issue of Dallas Voice.

—  Tammye Nash

Lee Park AIDS Memorial blooms

LP 031914-3aThe Dallas Tavern Guild took pictures last week of the AIDS Memorial in Lee Park, which includes daffodils planted last year after the new memorial was rededicated.

The memorial was created by Alan Ross who fought the city and the parks department for several years to allow it in a city park. Not until the Lee Park Conservancy was created and administration of the park was taken away from the park department did the memorial move forward. Ross was the Tavern Guild director for many years until his death, and he is credited with organizing the Pride parade.

Last year, because of a new landscaping project near Arlington Hall, the memorial was moved and rededicated in a new section of the park. The original tree planted in Lee Park had died years earlier and little was left of the original other than the plaque.

The new location is along the new walkway heading toward Arlington Hall from the corner of Turtle Creek Boulevard and Lemmon Avenue. The daffodils were planted in memory of the people in Dallas who died of AIDS.

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—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: Alan Ross AIDS Memorial rededicated in Lee Park

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About 30 people attended the rededication of the Alan Ross AIDS Memorial in Lee Park on Saturday. The rededication included the unveiling of a new plaque at the base of a newly planted sapling. The event was handled by Bravo Event Group of Texas with music provided by Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales. The ceremony, led by Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, included several speakers such as the Rev. Carol West and retired DPD Sgt. Lynn Albright.

“Let us remember the past, but look to the future. I think that’s what Alan would have wanted,” West said.

Albright, the former LGBT liaison officer for DPD, stated how happy she was that at least Ross got to meet her first daughter, who recently graduated high school.

“He was the big brother we all wanted and he was the big brother we got,” she said.

Among the most touching moments of the rededication was a young girl placing a single rose at the base of the plaque at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Also in attendance were Jack Evans, George Harris and Sgt. Jeremy Liebbe of the DISD police.

More photos below.

—  Patrick Hoffman

Tree planted in Lee Park honors people who died from AIDS

Tavern Guild Tree SlopeA new cedar elm tree has been planted in Lee Park to remember Alan Ross. The tree is part of an AIDS memorial that will be dedicated in June.

Ross was a longtime Pride parade organizer, Tavern Guild executive director and community volunteer who died of AIDS in 1995.

Ross also worked several years with the park department to get space for an AIDS memorial in Lee Park, but not until after park management was taken over by the nonprofit Lee Park Conservancy was it approved.

The original tree planted as a memorial died and was removed several years ago. Lee Park Conservancy wanted the space as part of a new landscaping feature that is being installed. Dallas Tavern Guild, which oversees the AIDS memorial, was offered other spaces in the park to install a new memorial.

Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said they chose a space along the new main Turtle Creek/Lemmon Avenue walkway.

A plaque will be installed at the space and a re-dedication will take place on June 22 at 11 a.m. Doughman said he is lining up speakers and entertainment and inviting city officials and other honored guests.

—  David Taffet

Top 10: Celebrations saw major changes

RazzleDazzle

PARADES AND PARTIES | Razzle Dazzle Dallas returned as a five-day event with crowds filling the street for the big Saturday night extravaganza. (Chuck Dube/Dallas Voice)

No. 7

Change was the name of the game when it came to the traditional LGBT celebrations this year, from Easter in the Park in April to the 30th anniversary Tarrant County Gay Pride Week celebrations in October.

In mid-March news broke that the Turtle Creek Association, which had for years been the sponsoring organization for the annual Easter in Lee Park celebration, had decided to move the Pooch Parade to the weekend before Easter, billing it as a “family-friendly” event called Creek Craze. That left the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s traditional Easter Sunday concert in the park without a sponsor, and many in the LGBT community angry over what they saw as a way to exclude the community.

But after the irate reaction from the LGBT community, the Turtle Creek Association teamed up with Lee Park Conservancy to hire gay event planner Dave Berryman, who quickly put together a plan to fund the usual Easter Sunday celebration by bringing in Cedar Springs Merchants Association member Kroger, along with Park Place Volvo and Metro PCS as title sponsors, allowing TCA to continue with its Creek Craze event and for the traditional Easter in Lee Park party to take place as well, complete with the Kroger Pooch Parade and the DSO concert.

In the fall of 2010 plans began percolating to bring back what had long been Dallas’ annual Gay Pride Month celebration, Razzle Dazzle Dallas. And while some questioned whether organizers would be able to coordinate their planned five-day revival of the event in time, Razzle Dazzle Dallas came back with a bang.

Many in the community reacted in anger again last summer when the Dallas Tavern Guild announced new rules for the annual Festival in Lee Park, following the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in September. Under the new rules, the park was fenced in and a $5 admission fee was charged at the gate. The Tavern Guild also banned partiers from bringing their own coolers and beverages into the park for the festival.

DTG Executive Director Michael Doughman explained that the Tavern Guild was fencing the park for the festival to get ahead of new city regulations set to go into effect in 2012, and that the admission fee was intended to add to the proceeds to be distributed to parade beneficiaries. Outside liquor was banned, he said, because incidences with highly-inebriated partiers in the park had gotten out of control in recent years.

Despite complaints and some glitches, Doughman said after the event that organizers were pleased with the turnout — some 5,300 people paid the $5 admission — and in December, the Tavern Guild distributed checks totaling $18,700 to five beneficiary organizations.

Tarrant County’s annual Pride Week celebration also saw big changes in 2012. Organizers consolidated the annual picnic and parade, which previously had taken place on separate weekends, into one weekend, added several events and moved the parade downtown. Despite dire predictions from some quarters that the changes would lead to failure, the community turned out in big numbers to line Main Street in downtown Fort Worth to cheer a parade that included, for the first time ever, a Fort Worth mayor — newly-elected Betsy Price — as a participant. And the following day, the crowds returned to Trinity Park for the annual picnic.

—Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pride proceeds


CHECK DISTRIBUTION  | 
Representatives of the five organizations named as beneficiaries of the 2011 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade gather at the Round-Up Saloon to pick up checks representing their share of proceeds from the Pride parade. Dallas Tavern Guild, which puts on the parade each year, distributed checks totaling $18,700 during the guild’s monthly meeting on Thursday, Dec. 1, with each beneficiary’s share determined by the number of shifts each group’s volunteers worked during the parade and Festival in Lee Park in September. AIDS Interfaith Network received $4,300; AIDS Arms received $3,400; AIDS Services Dallas received $2,400; Legacy Counseling Center received $1,100 and Youth First Texas received $7,500. Beneficiaries are in the front row. Tavern Guild members are behind them. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

LGBT candidates fare well across electoral spectrum

Houston’s lesbian Mayor Annise Parker leads the list of openly LGBT candidates, 75 percent of whom won in elections this week

Parker.-Annise

BIG WIN | Houston’s incumbent Mayor Annise Parker, who became the first openly LGBT person elected mayor of a major city when she won in 2009, addresses the crowd in Lee Park following Dallas’ 2010 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, for which she was honorary grand marshal. Parker took 50 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, avoiding a runoff and winning re-election to a second term.

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service
lisakeen@me.com

Tuesday was a very good day for openly LGBT candidates around the country, with three in four of more than 60 winning their races, including Annise Parker, who secured a second term as mayor of Houston.

But the real excitement in the Nov. 8 results came in some of the low-profile races of the day, many in notoriously conservative places.

Four out of five openly gay candidates won in conservative North Carolina, including LaWana Mayfield, the first openly LGBT member of the Charlotte City Council.

Another lesbian, Caitlin Copple, became the first openly LGBT person elected to city council in Missoula, Mont. Attorney Mike Laster became the first gay man to be elected to the Houston City Council, and businessman Zach Adamson became the first openly LGBT member of the Indianapolis City Council.

Alex Morse, 22, won an upset victory over a long-time public official to become mayor of Holyoke, Mass. Steve Pougnet glided to a second-term as mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., and attorney Chris Seelbach, who helped overturn Cincinnati’s anti-gay charter amendment seven years ago, won a seat on the City Council there Tuesday.

Data collected independently by Keen News Service and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund indicates there were at least 63 openly LGBT candidates on the ballot Tuesday: 47 of them won, 14 lost, and two outcomes remain uncertain.

Eight of nine openly gay candidates for mayor won Tuesday.

Parker in Houston

Parker in Houston secured 50 percent of the vote in a field of six candidates, though none of her five opponents had anywhere near the funding or organization that she did.

Still, going into the race, Parker had reason to worry. In mid-October, a local television news poll found that voters were split on her effectiveness. Fifty percent rated her job performance in her first two-year term as either “Fair” or “Poor,” while 47 percent rated it “Good” or “Excellent.”

In an interview with KHOU-TV, Parker attributed her poll split to people’s anxiety around the economy.

“We have the worst economy here in Houston that we’ve had in decades, and we have the worst economy that we’ve had nationally since the Great Depression,” Parker told KHOU.  “I understand completely why people are anxious, unhappy.  It is what it is.”

KHOU noted the bulk of the low job performance scores came from Houston’s unemployed and that mayors in other big cities around the country were polling similarly.

Right-wing groups that opposed Parker in 2009 tried again to portray her as a lesbian activist, creating a video they posted on YouTube that showed a slow-motion clip of her giving her partner-in-life a peck on the cheek after being sworn in.

It also showed a news clip of Parker appointing a transgender person, Phyllis Frye, to a local judgeship, and a news clip of an executive order Parker issued to ban discrimination in public restrooms on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.The video also showed a letter in which Parker referred to her partner, Kathy Hubbard, as “First Lady.”

Other mayoral races

In Holyoke, recent college graduate but longtime local youth and community activist Alex Morse won an upset victory against an incumbent who had been a top town official for many years.

The key issue had been over casinos — with Morse being against and incumbent Elaine Pluta being for.

Morse had served on the one-time governor’s LGBT commission and started a non-profit LGBT group. While attending Brown University in nearly Providence, R.I., Morse worked for openly gay Mayor David Cicilline, who is now in Congress.

In Palm Springs, incumbent Mayor Steve Pougnet, who is openly gay, won re-election over a field of six other candidates, taking 70 percent of the vote.

The only losing mayoral candidate Tuesday was Bevan Dufty in San Francisco, where, as of Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, Dufty had earned less than 4 percent of the vote in a field with more than a dozen candidates.

The apparent winner, acting Mayor Ed Lee, will become the first American of Chinese descent to be elected mayor of San Francisco. Lee became acting mayor by appointment of then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, after Newsom was elected lieutenant governor.

Lee was only the third choice of San Francisco’s LGBT newspaper, Bay Area Reporter. (San Francisco voters were able to rank their choices — first, second, and third — among the 16 on the ballot.)

The paper endorsed Dufty first and the current City Attorney Dennis Herrara second.
One of the city’s LGBT Democratic Clubs endorsed Herrera first, Dufty as second choice, and Lee as third. The other LGBT Democratic Club endorsed Supervisor John Avalos, followed by Herrera and state Sen. Leland Yee.

More election news

In other interesting news from election day:

• An openly lesbian candidate, Caitlin Copple, has won a seat to the city council of Missoula, Mont. — a state with a very sparse LGBT population.

While Copple’s connections to the gay community were not consistently highlighted during the campaign, they weren’t hidden either. The local daily newspaper, the Missoulian, ran an article about her involvement “with the Pride Foundation, which works to connect and strengthen Montana’s gay rights movement.”

• Four of the 63 races Tuesday were for seats in state legislatures. One of the most important of those candidates was Adam Ebbin, who moved from the State House to the State Senate in Virginia, becoming the first openly LGBT person in that chamber.
Unfortunately, the Virginia Senate lost a number of Democrats Tuesday and is switching from majority Democrat to majority Republican, giving the state a Republican majority now in both chambers and the governor’s office.

• Two gay men won Assembly seats in New Jersey: Tim Eustace and Reed Gusciora.

• The only loss on the state level was Patrick Forrest, who fell short in his bid for a Senate seat in Virginia.

• Two out of three candidates for judgeships won yesterday. The winners were Anthony Cannataro in New York and Hugh McGough in Pittsburgh. Daniel Clifford, a Republican, lost his bid for a judgeship in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

• All five candidates for local school boards won Tuesday, including Daniel Hernandez, with 60 percent of the vote, in Tucson. Hernandez was the openly gay aide to U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., credited with saving her life after a gunman shot and killed a number of people attending a meet-and-greet the congresswoman was hosting at a local grocery store.

• Of the 41 candidates running for city council or its equivalent in their cities, 28 won. Two others are still pending. Brad Bender’s bid for a Town Council seat in Southampton, N.Y., is too close to call. Lance Rhodes has been thrown into a run-off for a seat on the East Point City City Council in Georgia.    •

© 2011 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Making a difference

When Dallas resident David McCrory learned of the plight of a homeless gay teen in Colorado and tried to help, he discovered he could help make things better, but it wasn’t easy

McCrory.David

David McCrory

Draconis von Trapp  |  Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

One person can make a difference.
It’s been said a million times, and while some believe the old adage, some are still skeptical.
David McCrory used to be one of those skeptics.
But McCrory, a gay man who works for Dermalogica and a native New Orleanian who moved to Dallas from Los Angeles, discovered a whole new perspective after he helped a 19-year-old boy from committing suicide — from two states away.
McCrory moved to Dallas for his job and ended up participating with the Human Rights Campaign’s entry in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade this year for the first time. The parade featured British ex-rugby star Ben Cohen, who founded the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation that focuses on battling bullying and homophobia in schools.
After working with Cohen, McCrory started paying attention to the StandUp Foundation’s Facebook page, and that’s where he happened upon a post about how Jamey Rodomeyer, a young gay boy, had committed suicide.
As with most celebrity Facebook updates, there are usually several hundred comments. McCrory, usually not one to bother reading those comments, decided this time to take a look at the feedback.

“I was just browsing through the comments and I noticed this post from A.J.,” McCrory said. “And I guess it was the timing, having just read about Jamey, that I felt like I needed to reach out to him.”

A.J. had commented about how he felt that his only option was to end his life, saying that he was homeless just because of his sexual orientation. He said that he didn’t want to kill himself, but he didn’t know what else to do.

The comment was left in the morning on Sept. 21. It only took 30 minutes for someone to respond to A.J.’s post, recommending that he call the Trevor Project. But it took another eight hours for someone to proactively do something about it.

McCrory, after reading and responding to A.J.’s comment, emailed Cohen’s manager, Jill Tipping, confirming that both she and Cohen had read that post and responded to A.J. with suicide hotline numbers and contact information for different organizations that could help.

Feeling that more needed to be done, McCrory added A.J. as a friend on Facebook, started emailing him with reassuring messages and exchanging phone numbers with the young man.

After feeling out A.J.’s situation a little more, McCrory discovered that the teen had been living on a park bench for two days with no food after an altercation with his father.

“I left Colorado to go to Michigan to get in touch with my family there,” A.J. explained. “That kinda went south, so I came back to live with my father and things were fine.”

But the next day his father started questioning A.J.’s orientation. While A.J. had been out to his friends, he hadn’t yet come out to his family and wasn’t sure how they would take it. While he figured they would react negatively, he said, “I didn’t expect it to go as far as it did.”

After that, AJ’s father told him to leave.

McCrory said he did contact the Trevor Project, and while they were friendly and helpful, ultimately they could do nothing for A.J. immediately.

They provided some more contact information for organizations and crisis intervention programs in A.J.’s area — and that was the end of it.

McCrory said he tried all the contacts that were given to him but had little to show for it. Most numbers led to voice mailboxes and the one immediate crisis line he contacted could only help by advising he call the police.

At this time it was starting to rain where A.J. was, and McCrory was running out of options.

Finally, using his hotel points, McCrory booked a room for A.J. at a Marriott Hotel and, after discussing A.J.’s situation with the manager, was given the room for free as well as two meal vouchers so A.J. could eat that night and the next morning.

With cab services refusing credit card numbers over the phone and the police being short staffed, McCrory’s cousin used her credit card to have a driving service fetch A.J.

The next day McCrory tried to contact the LGBT community center in Colorado, but never got through to anyone. In a moment of clarity, it occurred to him that most towns had an LGBT-friendly church, and upon researching it, he found one close by A.J.’s location.

The Metropolitan Community Church’s pastor, Weff Mullins, provided McCrory with more up-to-date, reliable resources for A.J. and welcomed the teen into the service that Sunday.

One reputable organization Pastor Mullins recommended was Inside/Out Youth Services, which McCrory contacted, finally talking to someone who was able to get the ball rolling on providing A.J. with housing, therapy and a job to help him get back on his feet.

It was the help the young man needed.

A.J. has been living for free at a hotel since then and said that he has a brighter outlook on his future — one that doesn’t include suicide.

“I’m actually much better than I was before,” he said. “I’m mostly stable now and I’m pretty good.”

A.J. and McCrory have kept in contact and often talk on the phone.

“He’s a good kid,” McCrory said. “It’s pretty amazing that we’ve gotten so close and we’ve never met. I never thought that I would be helping someone out of a crisis situation like this.”

McCrory’s company has since made a $1,000 donation to Inside/Out Youth Services, which is being matched by the Gill Foundation, along with $100 from one of McCrory’s coworkers.

They worked together to get some Wal-Mart gift cards so A.J.could buy some clothes for himself.

“Plus, being gay, you know he will need some beauty products,” McCrory joked.

McCrory said that his involvement in helping A.J. has opened his eyes to how influential one person can be when they simply take the initiative to care.

Working with A.J. has furthered his inspiration to start a non-profit organization through Resource Center Dallas that features a 24/7 crisis center for teenagers who need help.

“It really blew my mind that there is a missing link in that chain, like you can get counseling over the phone, but you can’t get help after hours,” McCrory said incredulously.

“You can have a crisis as long as it’s within business hours.”

McCrory also said that had A.J. been underage, this whole thing could have ended up a lot worse. Due to the possible liabilities in dealing with a minor, most people don’t want to deal with them — and they can’t check into hotels alone. The only thing left to do would have been to call the cops and let Child Protective Services handle it, “which is kind of shocking,” McCrory said.

“I thought it was kind of an amazing story that select people think there’s nothing you can do,” McCrory said. “But it takes one small step of doing something that, as little as it may be, it could be the one thing that changes that one life, really.”

In the Dallas area, Promise House in Oak Cliff is a shelter for LGBT teens in crisis. They have a 24-hour crisis line that can be called at 1-866-941-8578. They are located on 224 W. Page Ave. and provide crisis intervention services along with case management, counseling, emergency and long-term shelter as well as advocacy and outreach.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

LifeWalk steps off Sunday in Lee Park

Nobles says that park will not be fenced this year but is worried about added cost and barrier affecting next year’s event

KICKING UP THEIR HEELS | The LifeWalk organizing committee gets ready for Sunday.

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

New requirements by the city of Dallas could affect proceed totals from this year’s AIDS Arms LifeWalk, and at least one more new requirement is expected to be added to the list next year, according to LifeWalk organizers.

The 21st annual LifeWalk steps off from Lee Park on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. for the 3.2-mile walk. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. Last year’s event raised $401,000 and this year’s goal is $500,000.

Although thousands of people are expected for the event, Lee Park will remain unfenced this year, even though the city has said such gatherings will require fencing in the future.

Officials with the Dallas Tavern Guild, which stages the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and the Festival in Lee Park each year as part of Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride celebration, decided to get ahead of the new requirement by fencing in Lee Park this year for the festival, although the city requirement had not yet gone into effect.

Tavern Guild officials also chose to charge a $5 admission fee to the festival this year to help offset expenses and raise extra funds that will be distributed to parade beneficiaries.

The admission fee raised the ire of some in the community, and attendance at the festival was down compared to last year. But Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said the drop was not significant, and noted that the admission fee brought in about $25,000 that will be divided among beneficiaries.

But AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said new city requirements have already had an impact on LifeWalk, and she is worried that the new fencing requirements could affect next year’s walk.

“There were a lot more expenses from the city this year,” she said. “It really hits the bottom line.”

The cost of fencing next year will add an additional, unwelcome expense. But Nobles said she isn’t going to worry about that until after this weekend’s event. Right now, her main concern is getting people out to participate in this year’s fundraiser.

“Anyone can participate in LifeWalk,” Nobles said. “You can walk alone or bring friends or join a team. We even have poop-out vans: In case you can’t walk the entire three-mile route, someone will pick you up and bring you back to the park to have a good time.”

She also invited people to just come to the park and cheer.

“We need cheerleaders at the start and finish and at the water stations,” Nobles said. “We have pompoms for anyone who wants to cheer the walkers on.”

Registration for LifeWalk is $40 for people and $10 for dogs participating in LifeBark. People get a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana to show their support for people with HIV.

AIDS Arms is the primary beneficiary of LifeWalk, but other organizations also receive funds from the event, including AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus, Bryan’s House, Resource Center Dallas and the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

Money raised goes toward programming rather than capital costs. The chorale uses funds for their HIV fund, including giving tickets to performances through the year to people with AIDS.

Nobles praised that effort, saying that socializing is an important holistic element in treating HIV.

The Women’s Chorus will present a program at AIDS Arms in March on National HIV Women’s Day. Those expenses, Nobles said, should be covered by the group’s LifeWalk proceeds.

Nobles said it would be tempting for AIDS Arms to use the money to finish paying off the agency’s new Trinity Health and Wellness Center in Oak Cliff. She said that the new facility cost more than $2 million, and AIDS Arms needs to raise just $35,000 more to pay off the facility.

Trinity Health and Wellness Center opened in September and will have its formal grand opening in two weeks.

But despite the temptation, AIDS Arms will instead use proceeds from LifeWalk to support programs for clients at Trinity as well as at AIDS Arms’ older clinic, Peabody Health Center in South Dallas.

AIDS Arms also uses the money to administer HIV tests to more than 3,500 people a year and for case management for more than 3,400 people.

LifeWalk began in 1990 as a fundraiser for Oak Lawn Community Services. When that agency closed, management of the event moved to AIDS Arms.

LifeWalk Co-chair Marvin Green noted that his Green Team will mark its 20th year of participation in LifeWalk. He said he put the team together for the first time in the second year of LifeWalk because he had already lost 20 friends to AIDS.

That first year, three team members raised $75. This year, the 32-member Green Team has collected about $22,000.

Co-chair Fred Harris said that there were quite a few new teams this year.

“We’re reaching out to new communities,” Harris said. “There’s new energy. We’re branching outside Oak Lawn.”

He said teams are using creative new ways to raise money and AIDS Arms has actively brought in new sponsors such as Chipotle.

“Stoli is coming with a first-ever LifeWalk drink,” Nobles said. Returning sponsor Caven Enterprises will serve beer and Ben E. Keith donated iced tea.

Harris said planning has gone well, and that “LifeWalk is a well-oiled machine.”

Harris said he has seen more use of social media this year than ever, reaching out to people outside the Metroplex.

“This year Facebook has become a very powerful tool,” he said, not just for fundraising but also for recruiting walkers.

Last year, about 3,500 people walked, and this year, “Registration is ahead of where we were this time last year,” Harris said.

Waterpalooza, another AIDS Arms event, was moved to Pride weekend this year, just two weeks prior to LifeWalk. Harris said they took advantage of that event to sign up teams and walkers and generate excitement for this weekend’s walk.

Among the new teams, Harris said, are the DFW Sisters.

“Their efforts have been tireless,” he said. “They raise the bar.”

Nobles said that WFAA Channel 8 morning anchor Ron Corning will serve as M.C. in Lee Park. Although he’s appeared at several events since arriving in Dallas, this is the first big public event the openly gay television host has emceed.

LifeWalk received the Human Rights Campaign family-friendly designation, and Nobles said there will be bounce houses, clowns and face-painting for children.

Harris said the event is pet-friendly as well, “because pets are our family.”

There will be games and puppy pools for dogs as well as doggie adoptions, Nobles said.

She said the day would be a lot of fun but asked people to participate because the need is greater than ever.

“With the growth in the number of newly-infected people in Dallas County who need help in this economy, we’re seeing people who never would ask but must,” she said.

Next year, Nobles said, she would like to see LifeWalk return to Oak Lawn, but new city regulations for events may change those plans. Among the events changing plans this year because of the city involved Lone Star Ride.

Last year, Lone Star Riders participated in LifeWalk on bike. This year, city regulations banned bikes from walks so LSR riders who participate will have to walk.

Green was thinking about bigger plans for future LifeWalks. Other cities that raise more money stage longer walks. He said he’d love to use the new Downtown Deck Park that should be completed next year and dreamed of seeing LifeWalkers crossing the new suspension bridge that should be open in March 2012.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Feedback: Is Kidd Kraddick anti-gay?

An open letter to Kidd Kraddick with the Kidd Kraddick in the Morning Show on 106.1 KISS-FM :

I am writing in response to your account Monday morning, Sept. 19 on your morning radio program, Kidd Kraddick in the Morning on 106.1 KISS-FM, to what was presumably a story about your plight of not being able to gain access to your residence because of road closures perpetuated by the 28th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, aka the gay Pride parade, on Sunday, Sept. 18. Your account of these events ended up being sprinkled with unnecessary and offensive stereotypes.

As your story goes, you were attempting to speak with a nearby female Dallas police officer regarding having to park on the street in a designated

“No Parking Any Time” zone. Apparently, you were trying to ascertain from the police officer if your car was at risk of being towed.

My first and obvious comment is: It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that one would stand a better than 98 percent chance of having his or her automobile towed by illegally parking along the street in an area that is clearly and visibly designated by signage as a no parking zone. Any prudent, intelligent individual would not even need to seek out the counsel of a police officer to make this determination, especially during an event like the parade where parking and traffic are, without a doubt, going to be atrocious. These are the times when traffic and parking laws and restrictions are most often enforced.

But I digress. As your odyssey unfolds, your efforts to speak with the female police officer were thwarted because there was a scantily-clad man who was already speaking to the police officer, attempting to determine whether or not his attire, which according to your accounts consisted of flip-flops and canary yellow underwear, were within the boundaries of the law, and not considered indecent or illegal clothing that might result in his arrest.

Because this conversation was taking place, you were not able to get the attention of, or speak to, the police officer.

In your account of the conversation between the man in the yellow underwear and flip-flops and the police officer, you used a lisp when recounting the words spoken by the parade-goer.

Mr. Kraddick, using a lisp in this manner is a blatant, flagrant and outrageous form of discrimination, and as such, perpetuates negative gay stereotypes and encourages unjust prejudice.

Why was it necessary to use a lisp to describe the conversation that you overheard while waiting to speak with the police officer? Did the man actually speak with a lisp? Or was this simply added for (negative) effect and to spice up your tale?

What you assert was being asked by the man to the police officer regarding the legal status of his attire was minimally amusing and could have stood on its own merits in your story without the lisp factor.

But the story, unfortunately, does not end here. As your telling of this story continued, you felt the need to further perpetuate prejudice and negative stereotypes, by lashing out at the female officer by stating that “She obviously had a horse in the parade,” implying that she was a lesbian.

Do you not see how making this sort of a comment is prejudicial?

If you were in a situation that required a police officer’s assistance, my guess is that the fact of whether or not she was a lesbian would be 100 percent irrelevant. So why is it important to render an opinion as to whether or not the female police in your story was a lesbian? What did she say or do that would lead you to that conclusion, and why was it important?

You are obviously an educated and worldly individual. So it’s mind boggling to me that, here in 2011, you are continuing what I believe to be a longstanding practice of making fun of and discriminating against gays and lesbians. Although cloaked in what you most likely consider “light-hearted” humor, the message is still there, loud and clear.

You have a longstanding negative view towards the gay and lesbian community, and this is not simply conjecture on my part. You have demonstrated this for years.

My first recollection of your anti-gay and-lesbian agenda goes way back to 1992. When it became public knowledge that the actor who played Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch, Robert Reed, died of AIDS, you ridiculed and made fun of him for being gay and made countless jokes about how the father on the Brady Bunch was gay and died of AIDS.

Where was your compassion and empathy? Who would have ever thought that this presumably long-forgotten rant of yours from 1992 would come back to haunt you?

Mr. Kraddick, this was nearly two decades ago, and even today, you continue to show your prejudice towards the gay and lesbian community with your not-so-subtle jabs and jokes.

I am calling on you to: 1. Publicly apologize for the disparaging remarks and innuendoes you made Monday morning on your radio show and countless times in the past; 2. Come to terms with your negativity and bias towards the gay and lesbian community and either out yourself as a bigot or strive to gain acceptance and tolerance towards gays and lesbians. The latter will most likely require intense, long-term therapy; 3. Refrain from making gay jokes and perpetuating stereotypes on your radio show. While as an American citizen, you are certainly entitled to your personal views and opinions, as a public figure and  someone in the radio in industry, you have a moral obligation to refrain from making public comments that are hurtful, offensive and derogatory towards any group of people. I’m actually surprised that KISS-FM has allowed you to get away with this for decades.

Please do not try and pacify me or others who are insulted by your comments by predictable and lame reasoning such as, “I have some gay acquaintances that I tolerate, therefore I am not prejudiced,” or “I work with gays and lesbians that I get along with, so this makes me gay-friendly.”

These outdated excuses don’t cut it anymore. Although it may be somewhat of a trite statement, actions do indeed speak louder than words. Either admit publicly that you are prejudiced against gays and lesbians, or change your ways once and for all.

Don Anderson, Dallas, via email

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Targeting gay Pride

I visited Dallas last weekend for the gay Pride festivities. I live in the Chicago now, but I grew up in Dallas. I have parked on Rawlins between Throckmorton and Reagan every time I have ever visited the Oak Lawn neighborhood.

On the day of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, not any other day, the city of Dallas felt the need to give every person parking on the street a parking ticket. And it is not illegal to park there.

It would appear, from my point of view, the city of Dallas felt the need to target the gay community for revenue because they knew it was Pride. I would not be as appalled by this if the city hadn’t also charged the gay community for their festival.

I try to defend Dallas but I would have to agree, this time, Dallas was very anti-gay on Pride weekend. I and every car on this block was parked legally. I am not upset about the money; I will even pay the ticket. I am upset because I spend countless hours defending Dallas only to feel discriminated against on gay Pride weekend, of all the weekends.

Kathy Hoffmann, Oak Park, Ill., via email

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas